Open-source hackers are creating an entire ecosystem with Microsoft’s Kinect, ushering in a new era of gesture-controlled inventions.
Hackers have transformed the $150 Xbox add-on into a platform for everything from artificial vision aids and nanosatellites to self-propelled grocery carts. With Microsoft’s help, their efforts may significantly advance medical and entertainment technology, suggesting public innovation can yield big rewards.
Upon release in 2010, Kinect became the fastest ever-selling consumer device, attracting gamers and spectators alike with its low price and high-tech gesture controls.
Hackers, too, gravitated towards the device and found the gaming system impressive. They formed groups like OpenKinect to take full advantage of its 3-D depth sensor, multiarray microphone and advanced video camera.
Microsoft, known for its stringent copyright protection, initially balked at OpenKinect’s efforts, vowing to “work closely with law enforcement to keep Kinect tamper-resistant.”
But after hackers successfully connected the device to PCs, used it to create flying robots and invented “Minority Report“-like swipe controllers, the company realized it no longer completely controlled the platform.
Accordingly, the Redmond, Wash.-based company released a non-commercial software developer kit, though some hackers argue Microsoft did so to claim credit for the open source “Kinect Effect.” Microsoft has indeed profited from hackers’ efforts, which inspired the company to sell commercial development licenses for businesses wishing to tweak Kinect.
The result of both Microsoft’s openness and hackers’ ingenuity is a flourishing of inventions and innovations that use gesture control to create features that cover the gamut between practical to wildly imaginative.
via Mobiledia – Kendra Srivastava
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